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Don’t let developers compromise safety, AOPA urgesDon’t let developers compromise safety, AOPA urges

Gillespie Field, San Diego, Calif.The San Diego Regional Airport Authority should act quickly to approve proposed updates to the airport land-use plan for Gillespie Field in order to protect the busy general aviation reliever airport and the surrounding community from incompatible development, AOPA urged in a recent letter.

The Nov. 11 letter emphasized AOPA’s strong support for a land-use plan update currently being considered by the airport authority. But the letter also warned that failure to act quickly would leave the airport vulnerable to incompatible development and to a proposal to shorten the land-use protection zones around Runway 17/35.

The city of Santee wants to make it possible for developers to build residences about one mile from the airport, something AOPA strongly opposes. Shortening the runway protection zones would open the way for more, higher density residential development close to the airport. But Runway 17/35 offers the lowest instrument approach minimums into the airport, and it is the only runway that can be used when visibility is poor and Santa Ana winds are blowing, AOPA pointed out.

“Gillespie Field is among the busiest airports in San Diego County, with some 240,000 operations each year, and Runway 17/35 is critical to ensuring safe operations under certain weather conditions,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy. “It would be irresponsible to allow residential development too close to the runway to compromise the usefulness of the airport and the safety of its neighbors.”

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